A Drama-Filled Finish in Melbourne to Osaka 2003

Sibby Mcfayden, at Hokko Yacht Club, told how they drove their 50 foot racer, Funnel Web, onto the rocks before dawn. In spite of this, she and husband Ivan completed the 2003 Melbourne to Osaka race on Funnel Web. The Mcfayden’s had established a lead over Beyond Outrageous and Matrix as they approached Japanese landfall. But then came a dramatic 12 hours.

Sibby talked to Sail-World dockside this morning. This is what she said:

We are lucky to be here. I am about to tell the world that I’m the biggest idiot that ever lived. I stuffed up mate; I stuffed up like you wouldn’t believe. Coming through the doldrums, we felt we really learned the boat. 3,000 miles too late we’d started to really get the boat going. We were pushing harder and harder. We felt good, we’d had a hot meal, and we were sailing as hard as we could.


We’d had no sleep for 48 hours, pushing our Funnel Web under kite and hand steering to catch Matrix. We sailed fast and reached the outer Bay and we came most of the way through the channel, into Osaka Harbour-it’s only a mile and a half wide. Ivan was exhausted and falling asleep, so I sent him down for a sleep. I steered her and steered her through the ships. It started pouring down with rain and we were clear, I thought. I put her on auto just for a little, and sheltered at the top of the companionway, I was looking out for shipping and checking course and we were exactly on track–and next thing I woke up and we were on the rocks, 32 miles from the finish line.

The island we hit was the first of the three little islands on the right of big island (Awaji-Shima). It’s sheer rock face and all broken rocks in the water and there is a big lighthouse, but that does not help if you are asleep. We were amongst the broken rocks at the base of the cliffs. Ivan said, “She’s gone; she’s going to smash herself to pieces. We’ll have to leave her.”

I was crying, and we grabbed all the EPIRBS and flares and were getting ready to leave her if we had too. It was the most terrifying experience. Then Ivan said. “We’ve got nothing to lose, she’s damaged already. Lets have one more go.”


We shut all the watertight bulkheads, turned the engine to full power and tried to drive her out through the rocks. We tried to go back, and that did not work, she kept getting caught on one rock. Then Ivan drove her forward through the rocks, we damaged the bow but we got out.

We were not taking any more water, the bulkheads were tight, so we started sailing again. I was shattered. Our wind speed went from 7-8 knots to nothing as the fog settled around us. Ship after ship, by then sun had come up. We were still in the fog and we could hear engines, big ship after big ship came out of fog, you could hear the pistons, the sound vibrates through the fog.

The scary thing was having no sail power, bopping around with nowhere to go. We pumped out the bow twice but it kept coming back in, but only slowly. Then the wind came in and we started moving. We saw Matrix and Beyond Outrageous. We’d lost our hard fought lead. I said to Ivan, ‘I don’t want to be last, let’s launch the kite.’ Ivan said, ‘Should we; we have a bow full of water?’ Anyway, we did, but she was so bow-heavy we were two knots slower than she should have been. We did our best but they beat us over the line.


I know that a lot of people though we might give up. It was never on the agenda to give up. The only reason we made it is that we ordered the boat with seven watertight bulk heads. Jon Sayer’s had a good look at her, its all quite repairable. But mate, we are just lucky to be here.

Matrix finished.
Finishing Time: 20th April 08h 36m 15s (AEST) 08h 36m
15s (JST)
Elapsed Time : 34d 19h 36m 15s

Beyond Outrageous finished.
Finishing Time: 20th April 09h 46m 52s (AEST) 08h 46m 52s
Elapsed Time : 34d 19h 46m 52s


Funnel Web finished.
Finishing Time: 20th April 09h 54m 45s (AEST) 08h 54m 45s
Elapsed Time : 34d 19h 54m 45s

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